Nick Shaxson ■ UN report recommends: go after tax havens, and protect whistleblowers

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From the United Nations General Assembly, the fifth report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. The summary goes like this:

“The report focuses on impacts of taxation on human rights and explores the challenges posed to the international order by widespread tax avoidance, tax evasion, tax fraud and profit shifting, facilitated by bank secrecy and a web of shell companies registered in tax havens. The Independent Expert calls for resolute action by the international community, including through the creation of a United Nations tax cooperation body, the adoption of a United Nations tax convention, the phasing out of tax havens, the revision of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to include the obligation of corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and the adoption of a financial transactions tax.”

As you can imagine with an introduction like this, here’s a lot of tax justice stuff in here, and TJN gets a number of mentions. It follows our earlier blog on calls by Rafael Correa, head of the G77 group of developing countries, for an international tax body. Among other things, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order discusses the definition of ‘tax havens’ and refers to TJN’s alternative term ‘secrecy jurisdiction’ while providing further details on TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) and the top listed jurisdictions on the FSI 2015 here (p9 and in the annex).

We’ll highlight only this section below for now, which is a recommendation for the following:

“Enact legislation to protect whistle-blowers and witnesses, and ensure that individuals who want to share information about corporate tax practices which harm human rights are not prosecuted or subjected to reprisals; States should cease punishing individuals for disclosing information that the public has a right to receive pursuant to article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A charter on the rights of whistleblowers and a “protected disclosure defence” should be adopted, pursuant to which criminal or civil liability for protected disclosures is waved and an “authorized channel” is provided for such disclosures;

We won’t embellish this blog because this bit is important.

Nevertheless, if you want to see more good stuff, read on.

Note: this report is dated August 4th.

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